The Mum Network

An Open Letter to Shapelle Corby

Dear Shapelle,

I will start by saying I don’t know if you’re guilty or if you’re not.

I’d like to hope you aren’t and that that is the reason why you never plead out to reduce your sentence. I can’t think of any other reason why you would maintain your innocence so ferociously for so long. I have always felt a huge amount of sympathy for you because on the 27th May 2005, 7 years and 9 months ago, when the drugs were found in your boogie board, you and I were roughly the same age. You were 27.  I was 28. At the time of your trial I can distinctly remember thinking, “my God, she won’t be out until she’s 48 – life will be so different then.” I was shaking for you. I had tears in my eyes. Where my life was just beginning with joy, happiness and delight, the birth of my first child, yours was, in a way, the beginning of a nightmare.

I can’t help but think about how much has happened in the time since that fateful day for you and how much has changed, how much you’ve missed out on and how the world we live in now, is very different to 2005 and I don’t know how much or what you have access to in prison but outside those walls is a very different and fierce world that you need to prepare for. You have missed out on the Internet pretty much taking over the world as well as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and social media in general. Learn them fast as you will need to manage yourself carefully.

With news of your possible release today, the internet almost blew up with the  #thingsshapellemissed hashtag (even hashtags weren’t around in 2005). People have recounted all the things that have happened over the last 7 years and 9 months. It’s a lot. I won’t go through them all, as you will have a laugh, a cry at the silliness of all of them. You will also have absolutely NO understanding of most of them as they reference things you will never have heard of. People now say whatever they want online and there are no repercussions whatsoever so your mental health needs to be strong. Popular opinion can become the judge and jury in one foul swoop and before you know it, one comment you make can inflame a nation. We are seeing the downfall of so many people in the public eye to depression, drugs and alcohol, it’s important to maintain a level head, yes, even with what you have been through so make sure you have the right people around you to get you through the tough times. Not just the hangers on who want their 15 minutes of fame as well.

A version of your story is being aired on free to air TV in Australia in February this year. If you are released this weekend, it will air the day after you are released. This will undoubtedly sway people’s opinions yet again and the circus that has become your story will reach an all time high. This is where I want to issue you with some important advice. How you conduct yourself from now on in will remain with you forever.  You are incredibly famous in Australia, you are a household name and with that comes great responsibility. It’s different now and if you want to make a career out of being Shapelle Corby, convicted drug smuggler for the rest of your life, then good luck to you but if you want to take your darkness, your demons and your experience, can I suggest you find some good in all of this and, once the book deal, TV deal, movie rights are sold, you spend some time, if you are comfortable, talking to kids, in communities less fortunate and where those are more privileged and talk to them of your experience. There is something to be learned from what you have been through and I honestly believe that if one child understands the conditions that one has to live in if convicted of a crime overseas, then that may be one less young person who loses their best years as you have.

I don’t think many would doubt that guilty or innocent, you have more than served enough time for the crime you were accused of and it’s time. It’s time to let you live your life, in the limelight or in private, whatever takes your fancy but the last piece of advice I want to give you is, be classy. Don’t start appearing in men’s magazines, don’t sell yourself short for a quick buck. Be smart about what happens next.

You only have one life to live. Make it matter.


Someone your age, who cares.

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